The Range of the Star Wars Galaxy – Behind the Reinvention of The Black Series

The reveal of the new Black Series packaging design has us fans inside Hasbro buzzing, because we know that the packages that hold the Black Series characters safely on shelf are nearly as important to many collectors as the figures themselves. We love the look of the new packages, which pay homage not only to the characters, but the iconic scenes of the Star Wars Galaxy.

But what goes into designing that look? Why have we changed the look over the years? How did we get here from where we started? If these are questions you’ve asked yourself, get ready… we talked to members of the Star Wars brand design and product design teams to peek behind the curtain and get some answers.

A long time ago...

Believe it or not, when we first started developing Black Series figures, we weren’t sure how deep the line would go. Our initial designs were based on a smaller need, and we decided to color code the characters using the colors most associated with them, like the iconic X-Wing Flight Suit orange for Luke or the cool blue of Captain Rex.  

Visually, we were inspired by the look of the Imperial Star Destroyers, from those lumen light fixtures with their easily recognizable glow to the sharp lines and details. The illustrations that we used were made to mimic the Power of the Force collectible coins, holding the shape of the face inside of a circle, to convey that truly collectible feel. The team chose a lithograph, hand-drawn style of illustration to add a personal touch that ended up becoming part of the DNA of the Black Series.

As it grew, the line had to adapt. First off, we found that using individual colors for characters just didn’t work for a lot of reasons. It wasn’t manageable, and so we decided to use that Flight Suit orange for the entire line. And then Chewie came along and changed everything.

The 13th figure that never was.

Inside the halls of Hasbro, the first Black Series Chewbacca remains a talking point to this day. Chewie is a tall character, and our boxes weren’t made to handle him. It was time to start thinking differently. We needed a window wrap. It seems like a small change, but small changes sometimes have big effects.

Suddenly the line looked different, physically. Why not take that opportunity to revisit the colors as well? The team decided to make the shift from orange to blue and, even though the art direction didn’t change massively, it signaled a new era in the Black Series.

Over the course of those first two years, we were able to really learn a lot from fans and the industry. We wanted to make sure to tap into that strong emotional connection that people have with Star Wars, while keeping the line organized enough for collectors without leading to “collection fatigue.” We were looking for ways to make that next step out of the blue era of Black Series and into something new. Luckily, the The Force Awakens was on the horizon.

A new day. A new dawn.

When we first started seeing the information provided to us by Lucasfilm and JJ Abrams, everyone on the design team was enamored with the new villain, Kylo Ren. But beyond that was the look of the First Order; an industrial military feel that was a central part of its visual design.

We knew the fans wanted consistency. And we knew that a new Star Wars trilogy meant we could think and work differently. It was time to shift to red. The team pulled inspiration from big, bold san serif fonts that looked like First Order flight decks, and the iconic, Sith red of Kylo Ren’s cross-guard lightsaber that we knew everyone would be buzzing about the instant they saw it.

With the shift to the red line look inspired by the beginning of the end of the Skywalker Saga, the team decided to live in that space and make it its own era of the Black Series. We thought that the best way to do that was to keep the red look through Episode IX. And after that?

The beginning of a new Black Series era.

The team had another opportunity to look at the brand in a new way. And by now, we realized that there was this huge volume that could be intimidating, even to the most stalwart collectors. We sat down with even more insights and we asked ourselves some hard questions. If completionism can be rewarding to some but intimidating to others, how do we satisfy the most hardcore of collectors and the most casual of fans.

What binds us together as fans is our love for Star Wars, no matter whether you sat in the theaters in 1977, tuned into Clone Wars in 2008, or discovered The Mandalorian in 2019. Everyone has their first Star Wars and their favorite Star Wars, and the team wanted our new look to reflect that idea that no matter why or how you collect these figures — for your favorite movie, for just the female characters, for just the bounty hunters, for absolutely everything — the Black Series works for you. A cool feature of the new line look is that none of these characters exist in a vacuum. They’re all visually placed and identified in the context of their entertainment, whether movies, comics, video games, animation, or live-action show.

Context is key. We wanted to celebrate every part of the Star Wars galaxy, not just the characters. In partnership with the Product Development team at Lucasfilm, the team revisited the illustration style, inspired by concept sketches and behind-the-scenes movie development. With this change in style, we knew that it was time to expand beyond just the characters, because characters are just a part of what makes Star Wars so beautiful. We added in backgrounds, full of details like ships and locations, to put the characters in the iconic environments fan recognize them from.

This new look also adds some cool collectability that wasn’t there before. Now, all the packs from a certain entertainment link up to form a scene to display on shelves. And, like Star Wars, that scene just keeps getting bigger.

We at Hasbro know that the Star Wars galaxy is always expanding. With the new line look, designed with years of experience and a cargo bay full of fandom love, the Black Series is ready for what comes next.